Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Susan Robert-Dobie


Forty-seven million uninsured Americans: an all too familiar statistic, peppering television advertisements, newspaper headlines, and most recently - a hot agenda item of political candidates is a sad truth of American health care. Unfortunately, for sixteen percent of Americans and approximately thirteen percent of adult Iowans, this is not just a passing television ad - but the facts of life that are faced every day. These individuals make up families who evaluate that, although it is taking a risk to be without health insurance, the security of insurance is not as important as providing meals on the dinner table. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that fifty-six percent of the uninsured are ineligible for public assistance but remain under 300% of Federal Poverty Line (FPL). Many of these adults struggle to find available, affordable coverage. While some of these adults are childless, many others do not qualify themselves for public assistance but have children that do. Low and low-middle income families are much more likely to face difficulties finding health insurance coverage than middle to higher income individuals and families. Daily, millions of Americans jump through this ring of fire. Because being able to provide for oneself or family is an integral aspect of American, not having health insurance can be a source of shame, making the discussion and education even more difficult. But, the conversation must be broached as, cost of living, medical costs and insurance premiums have steadily increased, while salaries have not increased at the same rate.

Many working Iowans are simply unable to budget health insurance into the family financial plan. A study done by George Washington University, found that between the years 1990 ?,nd 2005 the uninsured rate grew thirty-four percent and the health centers serving the uninsured saw a 155% increase in uninsured patient status.6 Regardless of insurance status, disease strikes at unexpected moments. Free Clinics of Iowa (FCI) is an organization that has responded to the disparities by building a support and supply network for the free standing, grass roots free medical clinics around the state of Iowa. Founded in the greater Des Moines area, FCI has a rich history and remains an important presence in Iowa's health care system. In order to completely understand all the information presented through interviews, clinic visiting, observation and research, the paper walks through the following theme areas sequentially: a brief history of health care policies (influencing capabilities and direction of free clinics and FCI), the history and current operating structure of FCI, clinic success stories and organizational accomplishments, and finally conclusions drawn from this research.

Year of Submission



Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (46 pages)